Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

The Violets of March
by Sarah Jio
Plume, 2011
304 pages
source: purchased e-book

Summary: (from goodreads)
A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

My thoughts:
One of the best things about my kindle is the Daily Deal email from amazon which offers four books specially priced (usually $1.99 or $2.99) for one day only.  It encourages impulse purchases of books I've been meaning to read or authors I want to try. And at that price, I allow myself to ignore my "only buy books I will start today" rule. Violets of March was a recent Daily Deal and Sarah Jio is an author I've been meaning to read, so I couldn't resist.

Traveling home from NYC last month, I was craving something a little lighter and remembered Violets of March on my kindle. For the next five hours, I was transported to the idyllic setting of Bainbridge Island, Washington and became lost in the novel's dual story lines. A present-day tale of love and mystery blended seamlessly with one from the past, told through the pages of a recently-discovered old diary.

Violets of March was the perfect diversion. I didn't mind that we were delayed, or that the guy behind me talked constantly (and loudly) on his cell phone, or even the close quarters of a very full train. Although I didn't quite finish by the time we pulled into the station, I managed to carve out just enough time the next day to reach the satisfying conclusion.

On a side note, I love when other books are mentioned in my reading. Here, Year of Grace  by Margaret Ayer Barnes, a 1931 Pulitzer Prize winner, played a role in both stories. It seems to be out of print now, but I'm keeping an eye out for a used copy.

My experience with Violets of March  was definitely a case of the right book at the right time. Thank you, Staci for recommending this author to me. I plan to read more by Sarah Jio.

My rating:

Bottom line:
A little more romance than my usual fare, but a delightful change of pace.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop: The Winner is...

.... Laurie C. at Bay State Reader's Advisory.

Congratulations, Laurie! 
Please send me your address via email and I will mail the package right away.

Author Birthday: Pearl S. Buck

From The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of novelist Pearl S. Buck (books by this author), born in Hillsboro, West Virginia (1892). Her parents were Presbyterian missionaries in China, and Buck was born while they were on vacation in the United States. When she was three months old, they took her back to China. She learned to speak Chinese before she learned to speak English. She and her brother explored the streets and markets of Zhenjiang, watching puppet shows and sampling food. She was embarrassed by her blue eyes and blond hair, but she didn't let it hold her back. She enthusiastically joined in local celebrations, big funerals, and parties. She said, "I almost ceased to think of myself as different, if indeed I ever thought so, from the Chinese." 
She fled China after civil war erupted and began writing a novel on the ship to America called East Wind, West Wind (1930). The following year, she published The Good Earth, about a Chinese peasant who becomes a wealthy landowner. At the time, Westerners saw China as one of the most exotic places on earth. Pearl Buck was the first writer to portray the ordinary lives of Chinese people for a Western audience. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize and became an international best-seller. 
Buck turned out more than 85 novels and collections of short stories and adopted nine children. In 1938, she won the Nobel Prize in literature. Later, she became active in the civil rights and women's movements, and she founded the first international, interracial adoption agency in the United States.

I have enjoyed several of Buck's novels over the years and consider The Good Earth is a personal favorite. Most recently, I have listened to Pavilion of Women and Peony: A Novel of China. Imperial Women is on my Classics Club list and I plan to read it within the next year. Have you read Pearl S. Buck?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Intro: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

How angry am I?  You don't want to know. Nobody wants to know about that
I'm a good girl, I'm a nice girl, I'm a straight-A, strait-laced, good daughter, good career girl, and I never stole anybody's boyfriend and I never ran out on a girlfriend, and I put up with my parent's shit and my brother's shit, and I'm not a girl anyhow, I'm over forty fu**ing years old, and I'm good at my job and I'm great with kids and I held my mother's hand when she died, after four years of holding her hand while she was dying, and I speak to my father every day on the telephone - every day mind you, and what kind of weather do you have on your side of the river, because here it's pretty gray and a bit muggy too? It was supposed to say "Great Artist" on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say "such a good teacher/daughter/friend" instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters on that grave, too, is FU@K YOU ALL.
The Woman Upstairs
by Claire Messud

I'll bet that opening got your attention! In addition to receiving high praise from trusted bloggers, this book had spawned heated discussion on the subject of likable characters. After a long wait, I finally reached the top of the library hold list and started reading yesterday. After fifty pages, I am enthralled.

What do you think of the opening? Do you want to read more?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop: Celebrating Audiobooks

Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Judith at Leeswammes' Blog. Between now and Wednesday June 26, you can hop to over 40 different book blogs, all offering one or more giveaways of books or bookish items. All books will be literary fiction, nonfiction, or close to it. Follow the links at the bottom of this post to find the other participating blogs.

My Giveaway

Since June is Audiobook Month, my giveaway is an audiobook package consisting of two recently released literary fiction titles:

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Narrated by Khaled Hosseini, Navid Negahban, Shohreh Aghdashloo
(my review)

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Narrated by Gretchen Mol
(review coming soon)

Both are review copies sent to me by Penguin Audio which I have listened to once.

If you are interested in entering my giveaway (US only), please let me know in a comment by 6PM EDT Wednesday, June 26.  Be sure to include your email address.

For more giveaways check out these blogs... let the blog hopping begin!

Linky List:
  1. Leeswammes
  2. Ciska's Book Chest
  3. The Book Garden
  4. Sam Still Reading
  5. Ephemeral Digest
  6. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  7. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  8. The Things You Can Read (US)
  9. Seaside Book Nook
  10. The Relentless Reader (US)
  11. Under a Gray Sky Blog
  12. Exurbanis
  13. Candle Beam Book Blog
  14. Booklover Book Reviews
  15. Books in the Burbs (US)
  16. Babyboomerwrites
  17. River City Reading (US)
  18. Lakeside Musing (US)
  19. Read Lately (US)
  20. The Book Diva's Reads
  21. A Place That Does Not Exist
  22. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (US)
  23. A corner of the library
  24. Roof Beam Reader
  25. The Misfortune of Knowing
  26. Girl Vs Bookshelf
  1. heavenali
  2. Love at First Book
  3. The Little Reader Library
  4. The Siren's Tale
  5. Musings and Ramblings
  6. The Readers Realm (US)
  7. Lost Generation Reader
  8. Readerbuzz
  9. Literary Meanderings
  10. Book Clutter
  11. Bay State Reader's Advisory
  12. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
  13. Nose in a book
  14. Audios & More
  15. Laurie Here
  16. Mythical Books
  17. Books in the City

Friday, June 21, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
Riverhead, 2013
416 pages
source: purchased

Narrated by Khaled Hosseini, Navid Negahban, Shohreh Aghdashloo
14 hours and 1 minutes
Penguin Audio, 2013
source: review copy from publisher

Publisher's summary:
Khaled Hosseini, the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Kite Runner  and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each passing minute.

My reading experience:
Khaled Hosseini has done it again! His previous novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, are among my favorites, and I have been eagerly awaiting this latest release since hearing him speak at the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series a few years ago.

I was thrilled when a review copy from Penguin Audio appeared in my mailbox. The first chapter (narrated by the author) reads like a fable and, in hindsight, can be viewed as the novel's plot in miniature. It literally gave me goosebumps... something that has never happened while listening to an audiobook.

By the second chapter I was totally hooked, and then faced a dilemma as I reached chapter four. The week ahead would allow for minimal driving/listening time, yet I needed to keep reading. So, it was off to the bookstore for a print copy... and 48 hours later, I was done.

My choice to remain vague about the plot is deliberate... you're better off just experiencing this book for yourself. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

A note on the audio production:
The opening chapter/fable read by Hosseini is simply wonderful. He has a lovely voice and a sexy accent. Then Navid Negahban and Shohreh Aghdashloo, team up to read chapters which alternate between male and female voices. Their heavy accents lend an air of authenticity, but require significantly more effort on the part of the listener. There were times when I simply did not understand what they were saying... yet I was so involved in the story, it didn't seem to matter. Again, I only listened to four chapters before switching to print.

Favorite Quotes:
"But there was no forgetting. Pari hovered, unbidden, at the edge of Abdullah's vision everywhere he went. She was like the dust that clung to his shirt. She was in the silences that had become so frequent at the house, silences that welled up between their words, sometimes cold and hollow, sometimes pregnant with things that went unsaid, like a cloud filled with rain that never fell."  p.48-49 
"Parwana kept marching toward her new life. She keeps walking, the darkness around her like a mother's womb, and when it lifts, when she looks up in the dawn haze and catches a band of pale light from the east striking the side if a boulder, it feels like being born." p.72 
"They say, Find a purpose in your life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind."  p.127
My rating:

Bottom line:
For fans of Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed  was definitely worth the wait!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Audiobook Week: Mid-Week Meme

It's Audiobook Week 2013 - a special week devoted to sharing our love of audiobooks. It's hosted, once again, by Jen at Devourer of Books. Today we have a quick meme to share.

Current/Most Recent Audiobook:

On my phone:
Tess of the D'Urbervilles 
by Thomas Hardy
Narrated by Simon Vance

On CD in the car:
The Last Runaway
by Tracy Chevalier
Narrated by Kate Reading

The last time I started reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I quit at page 175. With Simon Vance's help, I've past the halfway mark and am enjoying it very much.

I started The Last Runaway  yesterday and am still on the first CD. Initially I thought it was very simplistic and was unsure about the reader, but settled in quickly and look forward to returning to the story today.

Current/Most Recent Favorite Audiobook:

Calling Me Home: A Novel
by Julie Kibler
Narrated by Bahni Turpin, Lorna Raver

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:
Lorna Raver: She has nearly 90 credits listed on audible, but Calling Me Home  was the first time I've listened to her. It certainly won't be the last.

One title from your audio wishlist:
There are 177 books on my wish list at Audible, so I'll give you the title most recently added.

 The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story
by Lily Koppel
Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy

Which audiobooks have you enjoyed recently?
Visit Devourer of Books to see who else has posted a meme today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Audiobook Week Discussion: Making Choices

Welcome to Audiobook Week 2013 - a special week devoted to sharing our love of audiobooks. It's hosted, once again, by Jen at Devourer of Books. Our discussion continues with today's prompt:

How do you decide what you’ll listen to? Do you mostly listen, or split time between listening and reading? Particularly if you split time, how do you decide what you’ll consume in audio and what in print?

I love audiobooks and always have one or two in progress, in addition to whatever I'm reading in print. Choosing whether to read or listen can be tricky but, over the years, I have come up come up with a few guidelines that work for me.

Blogger Recommendation is, without a doubt, the most important factor in deciding whether to read or listen. Over the years, I have come to rely on the opinions of several bloggers, many with tastes similar to my own. These five are at the top of my list:

Narrators can make or break the audio experience, so I always listen to samples at Audible before deciding whether to listen or read. I have my favorites, of course, but am very willing to try new readers. Some books readily lend themselves to multiple narrators and these are often among my favorites.

  • Female 
  • favorites: Cassandra Campbell, Juliet Stevenson, 
  • new discoveries: Wanda McCaddon, Hillary Huber, Lorna Raver
  • Male
  • favorites: Simon Vance, Mark Bramhall 
  • new discoveries: Colin Firth, Steven Crossley

Genre:  I love literary fiction and classics in any format, but find that I prefer to listen to most nonfiction. Perhaps my ears stay focused better than my eyes?  I'm not sure I would have made it through Michael Pollan's books in print, but really like them as audios. Mary Roach also falls into this category.

Memoirs are often more enjoyable on audio, too. Narration by the author lends an additional dimension to the experience, as in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake  by Anna Quindlen, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper, and Infidel  by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I should also mention humor. Nothing is funnier than David Sedaris reading his own work, and I loved listening to the late Nora Ephron reading I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Review Copies: Although I do not request audiobooks for review, I have been lucky to receive several surprise packages in the mail. I'm more willing to take risks with review copies, and actually discovered a couple of the past year's favorites in the review pile.

Finally, I need to talk about my latest audio habit, "total immersion". By this I mean listening to a book in the car, on my walk, etc. and then reading a print copy of the same book at home in the evening. I started doing this a couple of years ago with classics. I sometimes struggled to get into the rhythm of the story and found that it was much easier to become involved when I listened. The read/listen combo has since helped me through several classic readalongs.

My most recent twist on this practice is to pick up print copies and finish books I can't listen to fast enough, most recently And the Mountains Echoed  by Khaled Hosseini and The Other Typist  by Suzanne Rindell. This is can get a little pricey for new releases, so I'm trying to limit it to classics or older books readily available from the library.

How will you choose your next audiobook?

For more discussion on audiobook selection, visit Devourer of Books.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Audiobook Week: My Audiobook Year 2012 - 2013

Welcome to Audiobook Week 2013 - a special week devoted to sharing our love of audiobooks. It's hosted, once again, by Jen at Devourer of Books. Here is today's prompt:

Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience.

I have been an ardent audiobook fan for over ten years and have participated in Audiobook Week since its inception.

Audiobooks became part of my life during a major home renovation project in 2002. What should have been a three month remodel turned into a nearly complete rebuilding (don't ask!) and prompted us to move in with my parents two towns away for nearly a year. Trying not to disrupt my children's lives, I spent hours in the car each day driving to and from school, sports practices, and other activities. And then there were those countless miles/hours logged shopping for fixtures, etc...

Audiobooks literally saved my life that year. I listened to anything and everything available at our public library  - on cassette tapes back then. When we moved back into our home, my listening slowed down, but audiobooks had become a permanent part of my life.

Since then, cassette tapes gradually gave way to CDs and eventually digital downloads were added into the mix. The biggest change over the past year is that I now have an iPhone. Since it's always with me, so are my audiobooks. Now if I could only remember the earbuds!

My Favorite Audiobooks 2012 - 2013

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
narrated by Bahni Turpin and Lorna Raver

by Anna Quindlen
Narrated by the author, listening was like talking to an old friend

by Graham Greene
narrated by Colin Firth

by Junot Díaz
narrated by the author

by David R. Gillham
Narrated by Suzanne Bertish

Click over to Devourer of Books and see who else is talking about audiobooks today.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Sentence: The Other Typist

Sunday Sentence, inspired by author David Abrams at The Quivering Pen, is "simply put, the best sentence(s) I've read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary."

"After all, summer was over. It had abandoned us, leaving behind a feeling of dissatisfaction, and taking with it all those too oft unfulfilled beach-day aspirations of a brown-skinned, primitive freedom."  
The Other Typist
by Suzanne Rindell
(page 308)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Foods of NY Tour

Remember a couple of weeks ago when thousands of book bloggers gathered in New York for BEA? Well, I have a confession to make. I was there, too, but did not attend BEA (gasp!). My daughter lives in the city and, since she was off Thursday and Friday morning, I decided on an impromptu visit.

Thursday morning, we walked to Chelsea Market and met up with a small group for a Foods of New York Tour. Our guide Darryl, a delightfully funny actor who often broke out in song, entertained us for three hours as we ate our way through Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District.

Sweet treats become works of art at Eleni's, where we indulged in mini red velvet cupcakes.

We visited Chelsea Wine Vault,

and sampled the best chocolate milk ever at Ronnybrook Dairy's Milk Bar.

Spices and Teas was an olfactory delight.

At Lucy's Whey we were treated to both cheddar cheese and a gourmet grilled cheese panini.

Buon Italia's mushroom quiche tasted like it could have come from my grandmother's kitchen. Sausage rolls were next...

The Manhattan Fruit Exchange was well-stocked with colorful, exotic produce.

We were pretty full at this point, but there is always room for chocolate! Check out those chocolate shoes from Jacques Torres.

We enjoyed a scone with jam and marmalade at Sarabeth's.

The temperature was nearing 90 as we made out way outdoors again for a stroll on the High Line.

Our tour ended in the Meatpacking district. A table for fifteen awaited at Macelleria... as did homemade pasta with bolognese sauce!

Needless to say, we weren't hungry for dinner. Foods of New York offers food and culture walking tours of other neighborhoods in the city, too. You can be sure they're on my NYC "To Do" list!

And if you haven't laughed yet today, be sure to check out my photo of the Chelsea Market book exchange.

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Audiobook Month: Going Public … In Shorts

June is Audiobook Month and the audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of 30+ professional narrators, has teamed with the Going Public Project to offer a serialized audio story collection: Going Shorts.

Each narrator has recorded a short piece from the public domain and will be hosted on various blogs throughout the month of June. One or two stories will also be released online each day via the Going Public blog. As a "Thank you!" to listeners, stories will be available to listen to online for free for one week following their release. The full schedule of story release dates and narrator appearances is available at Going Public.

In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, stories will also be available for download purchase starting on their day of release, with the full compilation available beginning June 30th. All sales proceeds go directly to Reach Out and Read, an innovative literacy advocacy organization serving more than 4 million children and their families across the nation, with an emphasis on serving those in low-income communities.

I am thrilled to host narrator Robin Ray Eller, reading "The Yellow Fairy Book: How To Tell A True Princess", by Andrew Lang. Robin is an actress, narrator, singer and dance educator.  She has appeared on stage, in films, television and numerous commercials. As a dancer, in addition to other credits, she traveled the world with the legendary James Brown, “The Godfather of Soul.”

Robin's  recording of  The Yellow Fairy Book: How To Tell A True Princess, by Andrew Lang is available for download at Downpour.

LM: Welcome to Lakeside Musing, Robin. I've been an avid audiobook listener for over ten years and am very excited to be part of this project.  Your background in the arts is so varied, I have to ask how you decided to narrate audiobooks. It seems like such an exotic job.

RRE:  I’m smiling at your thinking that narrating is an exotic job. I like to think so, too. Oddly, the suggestion to become an audiobook narrator came about 13 years ago during a six week voice over workshop. At the time I was busy performing: doing musical theater, booking commercials, training as an on-camera actress and landing small speaking roles on soap operas. Even after eventually recording my demo, pursuing a career in audiobooks still seemed overwhelming.

A volunteer experience with Read Across America, sponsored by AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), finally convinced me. I spent the afternoon reading to third graders on Dr. Seuss’s birthday and something just clicked inside of me. Despite my fear of having lost time, I had to get back out there in the audiobook arena. I was casted in a full-cast audio theater book (a charity project for Wavedancer Foundation in memory of narrator Frank Muller) that ended up being published by Blackstone Audio. What I remember most about recording this book is the feeling that I was home and it was time to go on the audiobook journey.

LM: You are reading "The Yellow Fairy Book: How To Tell A True Princess" by Andrew Lang,  a short retelling of The Princess and The Pea. Does your choice of a fairy tale have special significance?

RRE: The fairy tale is a nostalgic choice - I would get lost in fairly tales as a child. This is such a short, sweet story and I always took away the message to “never judge a book by its cover.”  I used to read fairy tales to my younger brother, helping him learn how to read before he attended kindergarten. I also worked as a teacher’s aide in high school and read to elementary school students.

As an adult, fairy tales were instrumental in helping me learn Italian. Recording my teacher as she read them was a useful tool because it helped me recognize and understand the stress in multi-syllable words. I would also record myself so I could hear the difference. Italian is like singing, which I do as well. It’s important to understand the melody and where it’s appropriate to stress a word.

LM: I know we should talk more about audiobooks, but I can't resist asking about Italy! You speak the language and are a seasoned traveler, while I aspire to learn Italian and discover my roots.  Do you return to the same place year after year, or do you like to explore new regions?

RRE: I return to Rome every year because my best friend/Italian sister is there, along with many other friends. I also have a dear friend in Milan who has been so generous to me over the years. But each time I go to Italy, there is some other area to explore.

LM: If you had to choose one favorite place in Italy, what would it be?

RRE: It’s difficult to say what my favorite place is because there have been incredible experiences in every place I’ve visited. My sister Roberta introduced me to a beautiful island called Filicudi and, since I’ve been there four times, I would have to say this is number one. It is where I fell in love with the Mediterranean Sea. Filicudi is the second smallest of the eight Aeolian Islands, located north of Sicily.  From a port city, one must take a ferry or the aliscafo (jet hydrofoil) in order to get there. This island is magical; especially if one's mind and heart is open to the experience.

During my four visits to Filicudi, I formed friendships with Italians from other regions of the country.  Italians are super friendly and they would invite me to visit their region. I couldn’t refuse an opportunity to build on these friendships and experience another region as a “local” instead of a tourist.


LM: My Italian grandmother was an excellent cook and many of her stories centered around food and family. You must have experienced some great meals in Italy.

RRE:  Eating an entire meal can take up to four hours or more, so there is plenty of time to share stories. I love how everyone enjoys the conversation and eats slowly. The meals are served in four courses, so one has time to eat, digest and eat again. The food is always fresh and simply delicious, but the best part is the quality time everyone shares. At restaurants, one is not hurried to have coffee and pay the check as in some restaurants here. The owner wants you to stay as long as you want. In some cases, I have experienced the owner sitting down and enjoying wine with us.

LM: I could totally see myself doing a culinary tour of Italy one day. Do you consider yourself a foodie? 

RRE: I’m not a foodie in the sense that others are. I have an allergy to certain foods which forces me to question how things are made. I am allergic to dairy products. All the great cheeses in Italy are not to be had.  Che triste = How sad!!  Needless to say, the first Italian sentence I learned was how to tell people about my allergy. Fortunately, there is so much wonderful fish, fresh vegetables and pastas to eat. I can’t get a bad meal in Italy.  I have a weakness for a good linguine alle vongole = linguine with clams made Naples style. I love southern Italian cooking!  I love the granita in Sicily, too, and will often have one before heading off to the beach.

LM: Now you're making me hungry! My grandparents came from southern Italy and my extended family still gathers for the traditional Sunday dinner - featuring pasta, of course.

RRE:  I must confess to being a pasta snob. If it’s not prepared “al dente”, I don’t want to eat it.  I confess to having thrown away the pasta because it was overcooked. I try not to waste food and end up using it to make a frittata. There is huge difference between how pizza and pasta is made in Italy and what can be found in some areas of the USA.  One has to be born with what I call, “Italian love” that is put into the food. There is no pretending there.  No matter what I think I master after cooking with my friends, there is something that one just has to be raised doing in the kitchen.  I am told that I do well; considering I was born in Italy in “another life.

What would your ideal day in Italy look like?

RRE:  My ideal day in Italy depends on where I am. If I’m on the island, then it requires a lot of walking and climbing to get to the great part of the beach. After snorkeling for as long as I could, I’d either read on the beach or fall asleep.  Later in the early evening; everyone would gather in front of the legendary “Triolo” to have an aperitivo which consisted of drinking malvasia and sharing about their day. This is where we usually heard about the “happenings” for the night.

In Rome, my day might just consist of walking around the city, going to a museum, visiting with friends, and making new acquaintances with the local proprietors. At my friend's Enoteca (wine shop), I would sometimes help English-speaking tourists with their Italian. Then I would translate from English to Italian so my friend could understand. It was great practice. During the evenings I visited with friends and sometimes sang with a pianist friend or, if I’m lucky, my guitarist friend’s cover band. I’ve done a few performances in Italy as a singer.  I always bring my charts (sheet music). The day and evening are never written in stone - which makes for great adventures!

LM: Thanks for talking about Italy and audiobooks with me, Robin. I'm ready to start planning my trip! 


BermudaOnion is hosting Patrick Lawlor today.
Kevin Hearne hosted Luke Daniels yesterday.

Coming Tomorrow:
JT Kalney hosts Scott O'Neill
Michael Stephen Daigle hosts Diane Havens

Going Shorts is made possible by the efforts of the Spoken Freely narrators and many others who donated their time and energy to bring it to fruition. Engineering and mastering provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design. Published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production provided by Xe Sands.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

And the Winner is...

.... Rhonda! 
Please send me your address via email and I'll mail it right out to you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for the Beach

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's task is to list ten great beach reads. But first, we must define what makes a good beach read - and that definitely varies from reader to reader. It could be romance (the trashier the better), the hottest best-seller, fantasy, or possibly a good thriller. My husband's ideal beach read is non-fiction... on a non-work-related topic, of course.

For me, beach reading is all about plot. When I'm on the beach, I want a really good story... nothing too sappy, formulaic, violent, or graphic. However, there are certain settings which make character-driven novels suitable for beach reading. (like #3 below) Good writing is also a must, but I'm more forgiving when it comes to vacation/beach reading.

Given all of that, you've probably guessed that my beach reads of choice are usually literary/contemporary fiction. Here are ten books I've read over the last few years that would make ideal beach reading.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Into the Woods by Tana French

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

I just realized that's eleven... so embarrassing! Since I can't decide which one to scratch, let's consider This is Where I Leave You  a bonus. It's the funniest book I've read in years!

What do you like to read on the beach? Visit The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten Tuesday posts.


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